Swans & Dolphins: Without People, Wildlife Returns To Venice’s Canals

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

What would a world without humans look like? As countries go under lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, photos on social media suggest it might be a lot cleaner, for a start. As one observer put it, “Nature just hit the reset button.”

In Venice, the canals normally teeming with tourists and boat traffic are nearly empty. But on social media, people are sharing photos and videos of clear water and wildlife rarely seen close to the city. For some, it was a small sign of hope as the country’s death toll nears 3,000.

Most nonessential travel to countries in the European Union is banned and Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak on the continent, has closed all nonessential businesses. 

The Venice mayor’s office told CNN that while the canals might look clearer than before the lockdown, the water quality hasn't necessarily improved. 

"The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom," a spokesman told CNN. "It's because there is less [of the] boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water's surface." 

That’s not to say the lockdown hasn’t had any positive environmental effects for a city that months before was battling overtourism.

"The air, however, is less polluted since there are less vaporetti and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents," the spokesman said, referring to the public waterbus, the Vaporetto. 

Italians have increasingly turned to social media to spread positivity in the weeks since lockdown measures were implemented. Videos of people singing in unison from their balconies have gone viral. 

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.



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